For nine years—when our two boys were in Middle and High School—we ran a lawn mowing business named Hoerr’s Lawn Care. In peak season, we mowed 25 yards per week, mostly for neighborhood widows and widowers who had fenced-in yards with small gates that wouldn’t accommodate the big mowers from commercial services. Most of our customers were very delightful, but we had one elderly widow named Edna whom we absolutely could not please. We either mowed too fast, or there were too many clumps of clippings, or we didn’t pick up the sticks adequately before mowing. Edna was simply a bitter, unhappy, unthankful person. Edna stood in stark contrast with Dean—the lonely, chain-smoking widower who had a hard life. He’d lost his wife years before and even though his children and grandchildren were i
By Ben Hoerr: In this series of posts, we’ve been taking a closer look at 28 “Jesus Says” commands. Whether we grew up attending church or not, almost all of us are familiar—at least in some measure of detail—with Jesus’ life-changing teachings and memorable parables or stories. Of all the things Jesus said, perhaps none is more challenging and difficult than his instruction to forgive others, especially when we have been deeply hurt or unjustly wronged. In Bible times, the Jewish rabbis often taught the need to forgive others was limited to three or four offenses—after that, one was entitled to “hold a grudge.” The Apostle Peter might have thought his suggestion to Jesus that one should be willing to forgive “seven times” seemed generous. But in his typical re-interpretation of the cu
By Ben Hoerr In this series of posts, we’ve been taking a closer look at 28 “Jesus Says” commands. It would be safe to say that no one’s writings or sayings are as well-known as Jesus’. After all, the Bible—which contains the only record of his life, teachings, and sermons—is the most popularly-selling book of all time. His stories are compelling, memorable, and life-changing if not also mysterious and deeply profound. Of all the things Jesus said, perhaps one command stands above almost all the others. We call it “the Golden Rule” because it is so simple, brilliant, and potentially world-changing. Near the end of his famous “Sermon on the Mount” (or, “Talk on the Hill”), Jesus instructed his followers to: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence o
By guest author Ben Hoerr - Lead Pastor at Vineyard Church Peoria One pleasure of living in the Midwestern United States during fall is experiencing the beauty of the leaves turning colors. Whether it’s a brilliant yellow ginko, a fiery orange black gum, or a burnt red maple, the colors inspire and move us. But we seldom stop to consider the lowly roots of all those trees. Every single tree – and woody ornamental, or evergreen, or shrub for that matter – depends on its roots to survive and thrive. Unseen and largely forgotten, the root system is actually what performs many of the trees vital and life-giving functions. Roots absorb and transport water, oxygen, and essential minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree. Roots provide an anchor for the portion of the tree above groun
I am inspired by a wide variety of things - Claude Monet's Haystack paintings at the Art Institute, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, my grand-kids, the Golden Beach in Coronado, a good book, an anointed worship song, the distinct change of Midwestern seasons, and heartwarming stories of sacrifice or service to others. These are the kind of things that take my breath away, or cause me to tear up, or move me to thankfulness. But that's not the kind of inspiration we speak of when we say the Bible is "inspired." The books of the Bible are not inspired because they give us an emotional response. Rather, inspiration literally means "God-breathed." Regarding the scriptures, inspiration means they are an accurate and reliable record of God's story. But honestly, at times I struggle with the r...
For the last 5 years, Tina and I have planted zinnias in the flower bed surrounding our yard lamp. In early spring, I cultivate the soil, mulch in some fertilizer and compost, and rake it smooth to prepare the seedbed. Sometime after Mother's Day we'll carve little furrows about 8 inches apart, and drop in the seeds. They look like small, dead pieces of broken, dried-up grass or small twigs. Very unimpressive. After a week or so of warm, spring sunlight and a few rain showers, the tiny seedlings push through the crust of the soil. They begin to grow - beautifully, mysteriously. By the end of June, the zinnias are knee-high and the buds are swelling. By mid-July, God works his magic and the intricate blossoms burst open in a dazzling array of many colors. And they'll continue to bloom un...
My friend, Doug Fehr, was a platoon leader in the Vietnam War. Before heading off into an exercise of any kind, he would always tell his troops to locate a landmark on the horizon—a radio tower, a tall tree, a hill, or something. He would do this because very often—in the plateaus, swamps, and lowlands, filled with very tall grasses—the soldiers would get easily disoriented and confused. These high points on the horizon would re-orient their vision and sense of direction. In the warfare of daily life, blinded by the bulrushes and grasses while we are slugging it out in the swamps, we often get disoriented and confused, don’t we? When we are (daily?) tempted to hopelessness or despair by the discouraging circumstances all around us we need a higher vision, don't we? I find that re-co
It is my privilege to introduce a new guest contributor to Lambchow. Ben Hoerr is lead pastor at Vineyard Church - Peoria. It has been a joy to get to know Ben and his wife Tina along with the rest of the VCP family. I hope that you find Ben’s reminders useful as we walk through the current political process. They may also help you avoid a few headaches along the way. The fuller picture, however, is that these seven reminders are every day, everywhere, truths whether it is an election year or not. Thanks and blessings, Dale This past Tuesday, I joined over 3.3 million Illinois voters to cast a ballot in the Super Tuesday primary (stats courtesy of Illinois State Board of Elections). As I stayed up late watching the early results and predictions on TV, I found myself g